Classic Coconut Dream Bars

Dream Bars
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: 24 bars (24 servings)

Chewy coconut dream bars are a delicious treat. This can quickly become a favorite bar recipe for holidays, parties, potlucks, bake sales, or just as a weekend sweet for the family. They're similar to magic cookie bars, but with a shortbread crust rather than one made with graham crackers.

This recipe bakes the coconut dream bars in two stages. First, you'll partially bake the brown sugar shortbread crust. Then you'll add the chewy, toffee-like coconut and pecan topping and bake again.

While chopped pecans are a favorite for these bars, walnuts work as well. Semisweet or milk chocolate chips are an excellent addition to the topping, too, but they're optional.

Ingredients

  • For the Crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • For the Topping:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flaked coconut (sweetened)
  • 1 cup pecans (chopped; or walnuts)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular, semisweet or milk chocolate)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the oven to 350 F.

  3. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 1/4 cups of flour until the mixture begins to hold together. Press into a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Let the crust cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs with 1 cup brown sugar, vanilla, 2 tablespoons flour, and baking powder until smooth. 

  6. Stir in the coconut, nuts, and chocolate chips, if using.

  7. Spread the filling over the crust and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the topping is golden brown. Let the bars cool completely before cutting.

  8. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Tip

  • The shortbread crust does not require a greased pan.
  • Ensure your baking powder is fresh. It's a temperamental ingredient that has a shelf life of just 9 to 12 months and the container should have an expiration date.
  • Unsweetened coconut doesn't work well for sweets. If you have unsweetened coconut flakes, make a simple syrup by bringing 4 tablespoons of water and stirring in 4 teaspoons of sugar until dissolved. Add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut and let it soak up the syrup. Set it in a flat layer on a baking sheet to dry slightly for about 20 minutes.

Recipe Variation

  • For a thicker shortbread crust, use 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup of brown sugar, and 10 tablespoons of softened butter.
  • Split the chocolate chips equally with butterscotch, peanut butter, brickle, or white chocolate chips. You can also use any of these alternative chips and skip the chocolate entirely.
  • Skip the nuts and double up on the chocolate chips.